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Perspective – Dressage competition report

Written by Andrea Parker

As I sat next to my float polishing my boots as the fog slowly cleared this morning, listening to the sounds of Nonie contentedly chewing her breakfast, I had to laugh to myself. Perspective certainly is a funny thing. Just over two weeks ago I surely would have been thrilled with any score above 60% in a medium test in competition. But of course being the type A, overachiever that I am having surpassed the 60% mark at our previous competition, I was no longer satisfied.

This weekend Nonie and I went up to the Whitsunday Equestrian Group Dressage competition to get some more test under our belt before we hopefully head down to the Australian Amateur Owner Championships in September. This competition is a little closer to home for us, being just a two hour drive away which meant I was going without Steve and Sailor and that I could travel up on the Saturday morning.

We arrived in Cannonvale with plenty of time before our first test, and although I was organised I made the stupid mistake of getting on for my 1.15pm test without having eaten lunch. Not clever Andrea. So although Nonie warmed up fairly well I was out of steam by the time I went over to the ring. This combined with the judges begin about fifteen minutes late to get back from their lunch break meant that our first test, the elementary 3.2 was a bit flat.

After a bit of a lunch break for Nonie and I, I got back on to warm up for our medium test. That flock of parrots had returned to my stomach, although I had been able to get them under control much better than I had at our previous competition, by having a stern word to myself, particularly given that I was still feeling a bit shaky and out sorts after my late lunch. But we managed to pull it together and while there were mistakes in the test there were also some nice moments. We managed a fairly respectable 61.89%.

Sunday’s tests I felt were much better. I had drawn late times again, with my first test at 1.20pm but I’d learnt my lesson the previous day and grabbed a quick bite before getting on. I was really proud of how brilliant Nonie felt as we warmed up for the elementary today. Soft, uphill and straight.

In particular, I was thrilled with the transitions from medium canter back to collected, she is really starting to let the half halts come through and sitting back better in these transitions. Nonie’s canter has been one of the most challenging things to learn to ride, as she lacked any natural balance and straightness. But it finally feels like it is starting to come together. The test had some really pleasing moments, including the dreaded counter canter loops and the walk pirouette’s.

The medium 4.3 was up after that, and for me this test was the highlight of the weekend. Again there were some mistakes, and things that we really need to work on, but she stayed with me and felt really rideable throughout. Coach Nancy who was also competing this weekend commented that the test flowed really nicely.

What really struck me this weekend was just how much I have come to enjoy competing. I am loving the whole process these days, which is something I could not have said four years ago. From plaiting up, to camping, to actually getting in the ring, and spending extra time with my lovely mare.

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About the author


Andrea Parker

Andrea is an Adult Amateur dressage rider who competes at medium level on her 13-year-old mare Mon Ami. Andrea shares her journey through the equestrian world on her blog The Sand Arena Ballerina and is working on an equestrian podcast called Equestrian Pulse.